We are facing one of the most complex challenges of our generation: How do we stay firm and grounded in the doctrine and standards of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while simultaneously loving family members who are living lifestyles that include serious sexual sin? How do we lead with love and compassion while being loyal to the commandments, warning against sin and not condoning actions? How do we teach children and youth who are finding it increasingly difficult to discern sin and sinful behavior when their peers and the media say it is acceptable and in fact, very good? And, using Elder Holland’s words, “How do we distinguish between the sin and the sinner?” These concerns and questions are in the hearts and minds of many members of the Church right now. They are ones that prophets and apostles have answered time and again, but are so often misunderstood that they are in need of frequent repetition. Continue reading
“Shannon, I have something I need to tell you.” Terror. He was getting married. Not to me. So I thought, “Okay, what is it?” Heart beating, eyes clenched shut, preparing to sound chipper when I offered false words of congratulations. “I struggle with same-gender attraction.” My body instantly relaxed as what only can be described as sweet relief washed over me.
When my friend “came out” to me, my first reaction was all about me. I was so grateful to know why we had never been able to move from friendship to romance. He was the most handsome, clever, confident, kind man I had met. People speak in hyperbole of their knees becoming weak. but my knees literally buckled every time he spoke. After a year of intimate friendship and some wonderful adventures, I had started to believe I wasn’t attractive enough for him and fearfully fretted away the days, knowing that he was going to be snapped up by someone “prettier.” Continue reading
Whenever same-sex attraction and/or same-sex marriage is discussed, the focus tends to be on those who are already seeking/living in a same-gender relationship (a.k.a. gay and lesbian). But there is a forgotten group that experience homosexuality and who feel like they don’t fit into either side: that is members of the Church who experience same-sex attraction (SSA) and fight their temptations every day. They work so hard to obey their parents, church leaders, and God. They are on a roller coaster of emotions as they strive to live the commandments and discover their place in the Church and within God’s plan. Some days they are doing great; they have hit a milestone in their journey and are feeling on top of the world. Other days, they might feel low, hated, or feel like they can never improve, never be loved or accepted. And in all of those moments, we, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), as children of God (literal brothers and sisters), need to offer our unconditional love, support and friendship no matter what.
I cannot speak from personal experience about what it means to have SSA as a member of the Church, but I do observe as a very close bystander. I speak from my experience watching a very dear family member come out and try to find his place both in the world and at Church. I have always loved him. I have tried so hard to perfectly understand him, at all times, but there are so many times where I feel like I have failed him miserably. He is a beautiful son of God. I know that God loves him. As I have watched and been a part of his journey, I have learned a few things: